My goal is to offer exceptional raw fleeces. The first couple of years, the challenge was vm and cleaning the pastures. Oh, and shearing.. yes, that was a big challenge. (not only for the first year..lol) Even though we've continued to expand the pastures, the vm this year was not a big issue. The shearing was much easier this year - teetering on the "i enjoyed it" stage.
I feel better about getting the fleece off with minimum stress on the sheep and myself. Still need a little improving on the second cuts, but that's getting better with practice. We had some really nice fleeces this fall, and a couple of fleeces that seemed to have lived in the holler'. I can't quite figure how one sheep can get matted and filthy while the sheep that lays next to them stays as clean as a show sheep! I had one fleece (from our moorit ewe Sierra) that her belly wool looked and felt like the wool off of a lambs back - I didn't separate her belly wool because it was just too soft and beautiful to toss aside.
But this next picture is the delima for some of our fleeces this year - gummy tips. I've only noticed it on a couple of the fleeces, and I'm looking for advice if anyone has some "gum free tips" for me! I sheared the ewes after they lambed this year and as their fleeces started growing, I noticed these gummy tips. I am thinking that maybe i sheared too early? Possibly before their seasonal wool-break? (however, it didn't seem to early to be shearing.. May?)
So.. I spent a few hours picking the tips off of Alice's fleece.. and by the time I did that, I was invested! I was looking forward to washing and carding and spinning her fleece myself... I still have a lot of wool to skirt, and I'm hoping that i don't get attached to all of them!